Sunday, July 5, 2009

Federal judge moves to fast track legal fight over Proposition 8

"SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge Thursday refused to temporarily block Proposition 8, moving forward with his plan to put the latest legal challenge over California's gay marriage ban on a fast track to a trial that is likely to produce the most thorough review to date of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

With all sides in the legal battle poised for a fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker agreed with Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, concluding that it would cause too much confusion across California if he chose to suspend Proposition 8 while the challenge to the voter-approved gay marriage ban unfolds in the courts. Brown has nevertheless sided with gay marriage advocates on the overall lawsuit, agreeing that Proposition 8 violates the federal equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples by denying them the ability to marry.

Walker told a packed courtroom that his job is to establish a full record on the legal tangle over gay marriage because he will not be the final word in a case that many legal experts believe will force the U.S. Supreme Court to address the issue.

"What happens here is only a prelude to what is going to happen later," Walker said."

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